Research Program

My research program encompasses a variety of methods and systems centered around the fundamental question:

How will ecological systems and landscapes change in the face of the compounded threats of land use change and climate change?

 

Using High-Resolution Remote Sensing to track land cover change over time

Investigation of the spatial and temporal dynamics of a system is critical to understanding the impact of anthropogenic interference and resilience to global change.

Amount of deforestation in the country of Myanmar from 2000-2016. Color gradient signifies low (green) to high (red) deforestation rates.

During my tenure with the Smithsonian at the Conservation Biology Institute and the Environmental Research Center, I have performed geospatial analyses to determine how landscapes vary in space and time. Using a combination of imagery from satellites and UAVs (drones), we can capture . Read about my work at the Smithsonian and some thoughts on the role of drones in conservation work here.

 

Reptile and Amphibian Diversity and Demographics

Ameerega trivittata, a poison frog found in northern and western Amazonia.

Everyone has their gateway drug to ecology, and herps were mine. Stemming from a childhood fascination with catching and keeping our scaly neighbors, I now use reptiles and amphibians as a target study system for understanding how changes in land use change and climate determine trends in diversity. Because herps are abundant in many systems, easy to identify (for a herper), and frequently demonstrate high endemism (associated with a particular geography area and found nowhere else), shifts in their distribution and diversity can feasibly be recorded as land cover changes. Reptiles and amphibians are also ectothermic (rely on external sources to control body temperature) and therefore are highly responsive to adjustments in their thermal environment, making them an ideal group of organisms for thermal ecology and microclimate studies. Read about how I led an investigation of herp diversity across a land use spectrum here.

Data Synthesis and Ecological Forecasting

Understanding macroecology at large spatial or temporal scales frequently requires drawing information from multiple primary sources, which frequently contain different data types that were collected using distinct methods. I build ecological databases drawn from other hard work to develop a broader or more holistic picture of carbon stocks, climate, and biodiversity. I develop community-derived, open-source code and tools, and quantify uncertainty in data sources and knowledge through hierarchical modeling and Bayesian frameworks. To facilitate collaboration and accelerate science, all of my software and data is made open-source and publicly available.

gears

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